New England Patriots End of Season Awards 2011
By: Cian Fahey | Published Thursday, December 29, 2011, 5:15 PM | Updated Friday, December 30, 2011, 9:00 AM
Most Valuable Player:
Originality is never easy with this award in Boston. The 2011 NFL regular season once again proved that Tom Brady is the most valuable Patriots' player. Brady is the difference between winning and losing for this team and he will continue to be so long as the defense struggles. Brady's record setting season is only being eclipsed by two players at the very top of their games, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. While last year's unanimous league MVP potentially may not receive a single vote this year, he remains an elite player at the position which drives this league.
Winner: Tom Brady.
Most Disappointing Player:
The Patriots relied on the impressive performances of young defenders last year to take the top seed in the AFC. This year they are once again playoff bound however that is in spite of their porous defense. Devin McCourty's rookie season may not have been all-pro, despite the widespread acclaim he received, but he had certainly done enough to establish himself as a respectable corner. His performances this year dashed that respect. McCourty needs to establish himself in the playoffs if the Patriots are to entertain the idea of winning the AFC.
Winner: Devin McCourty.
The Breakout player of the year is generally an unknown player previously who becomes a recognized name. It is not limited to that however which allows the Patriots' Rob Gronkowski to win this award. Gronkowski was already an emerging tight end last year, however this year he is arguably the best tight end in the league. Gronkowski's numbers have been astronomical as a receiver while his blocking and performances in situational football make him one of the most valuable players in the NFL.
Winner: Rob Gronkowski.
Andre Carter had 11 sacks in 2009 as a Washington Redskin. The following year he registered only two and a half sacks while only starting five games. Carter was dropped because of scheme change under Mike Shanahan. His return to a 4-3 defense in New England has allowed him to notch 10 sacks with one remaining game as well as locking up a Pro Bowl berth.
Winner: Andre Carter.
There is generally more expected of top round picks in the NFL. While the Patriots didn't necessarily expect that much from Nate Solder, who entered the season as a backup, Solder was outstanding during his time on the field. Solder spent time at both tackle spots but looked especially better on the right hand side. His physicality and agility was notably better than Sebastien Vollmer.
Winner: Nate Solder.